Thursday, 29 September 2011

Its that time of year when the old London Marathon Mag comes through the door!

Its that time of I in or am I not in?   I decided not to enter 2012 London Marathon through the ballot and chase a qualifying time which I acheived at Chester way back in May (74.47 for the Half) so all the talk about Marathon Magazine (Congratulations vs Comiserations) are passing me by.

I last did the London Marathon in 2000 and throroughly enjoyed the experience finishing in a modest the finish I was in quite a bit of pain and ended up not running for six weeks or more as I recovered from a hamstring injury.   I've since entered in the ballot a few times and been unsucessful then got in for 2009 only to be struck down with sciatica early January and not run a step (apart from a few "test jogs" for a good six weeks.   Deferred my entry for 2010 only to get knocked off my bike and ruin the winter training (essential for a good marathon).   2011 I didn't bother entering thinking I would save myself for a big effort to get in as a vet in 2012.

I like the idea of doing a marathon again (have only done two with my last one in 2005).   Trouble is I dont mind the training but have had such a great year this year with going well in the relays, returning to the track for some 5000s and making some great progress again over 5km and 10km that I think a Marathon will take over my running focus from January to May (given a decent build up and adequate recovery) that I will miss the opportunity to have a decent crack at the shorter stuff early in the year.

Tonights session was a bit of the short sharp stuff to make a change from the longer intervals and tempo type efforts that have been the focus over the past few weeks.   Forgot how tough a 12 x 400m session is!   A reminder that you need to keep a bit of short stuff in your schedule every now and again.   Not a spectacular session but averaged around 75 seconds (5 min miling) for the majority of efforts.   Felt like summer was back - hard to think the cross country season starts a week on Sunday!   Now where are those spikes!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Warrington Relays Report

In  a previous blog I have waxed lyrical about the relays.  They really are a superb day out and a great opportunity for ordinary club runners to run alongside internationals and an opportunity to see many great runners who you often hear about in the athletics press or see at the start of races disappearing into the distance.

This was officially my first relay as a Vet 40 so I am going to start with some stats!

My time of 19.53 was probably as quick as I have run all year and would probably get close to my 5km season best had the course been 5km.  That said I did run pretty quick from the start and had to hold on at the end.   A first mile of 5-10 probably wasn't a text book way of running a relay but it felt (relatively) by the latter stages of the second leg I wished I had run a bit more conservatively at the beginning but its all part of the fun!  That said I did finish with a sprint and managed to outkick a few runners over the last 300m which is a bit unusual for me...

Over the six stages there were only 13 veterans quicker than me including the evergreen Ian Hudspith of Morpeth who posted a fine 17.21 on the last leg to send Morpeth home as runners up to Leeds City.  So 14th Vet overall in the six stage is a fine result that will make training this week (once the stiffness in my legs has gone!) seem that little bit more special! Overall in the event I posted the 158th fastest time of the day out of a field of 595 finishers. 

Team wise we had full teams in the Mens 6 stage and the Womens 4 stage.    Here are the full results...

North York Moors Ladies finished 34th out of 48 complete teams.  
North York Moors Men finished 60th out of 93 complete teams.

A huge well done to New Marske Harriers who finished a very creditable 8th overall.   A fine individual performance from Andy Wiles with a 17.42 (10th fastest of the day) on the second leg backed up with some solid performances from Shaw, Best, Piggford and Jackson.  

I usually scour the relay results by team and see where I might have featured in the Top 10 teams.  ThisYear I would have been 6th Counter in the Altrincham Team who finished 7th, 4th counter in the New Marske Harriers Team who finished 8th or 6th Counter in the Liverpool Harriers B team who finished 9th.

It was also good to see a few old faces at the relays from my days in the North West of England and have a good catch up.

On the coaching front two of my athletes competed on the day with good solid performances from Jayne Parkin on the first leg with a 20.19 for the 2.98 (ish!)  mile leg and Lucy Clough with a 20.04 to help the team to a creditable 34th position.   Judging by the banter between the two of them it could get quite competitive between them in training over the next few weeks as they build up to target races over the Autumn/Winter period.

Enjoyed watching the Berlin Marathon today despite the camera problems meaning we got lots of shots of cycle outriders, BMWs and Tourism shots of Berlin oh and the occasional glimpse of Haile, Paula and big groups of pacemakers.   The world marathon record took a step closer to being under 2 hours with  Patrick Makau smashing the world record with a fine 2-03.38.  Its the first time I have ever seen a marathon winner go back through the finish and hand slap the majority of the crowd on the finishing straight...awesome!  Also some great British perfomances with Paula Radcliffe back on form with a great 2.23-46 third place but also a great run by Scott Overall who finished 5th in 2.10-55 to get the qualifying time for London 2012.

Where next for Haile after dropping out with stomach problems?  I wonder if the "The greatest distance runner ever" might have had his day - who knows what drama will follow in the build up to 2012!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Building Blocks!

After the track session on Thursday which was my first for a while I enjoyed an easy day on Friday.  Easy at the moment is just an easy run am of not more than 3 miles or so at a pace outside of 7 mins per mile.  On Friday even this was a challenge as my legs were stiff and tired from a very satisfying track session.

I arranged an early run on Saturday morning with Steve Hepples which focussed my mind to a) try and get to bed early on Friday night b) Not to drink too much red wine and c) wake up early to have a decent walk and some breakfast before hitting the road (especially as there was talk of this being a tempo session!).  

So after a late night, drinking probably slightly too much red wine and waking up to a text message at about 6.45am from Steve confirming the run at 7.45am I realised the error of my ways!

Actually it turned out to be a great run with a steady pace out to Lazenby and a good runners type gossip about the previous nights Diamond League, training, race plans etc we arrived at our destination ready for a stretch, few strides, more stretching and plenty of limbering and a few encouraging words we set off on our tempo pace effort back home - a distance of slightly under 4 miles.  

Knowing that Steve was giving me a 2 min head start I set off with great intent and managed to hold a super steady fast pace of 5.29 miling pretty much all the way.   In fact we were both buzzing about our session at the finish as Steve managed a pace under 5 minute miling as he chased me home - his best for a while! 

This tempo was followed up with another decent run on Sunday (Pre Great North Run TV Spectacular training run!).  I set off at about 6-15 miling and gradually increased my pace to under 6 minute miling for the second half finishing the run at tempo speed.   An 8.6 miles decent run in the bag again at an average of just over 6 minute miling.

Tonights run was therefore the third hard session on the trot and was to consist of 4 x 1 mile hard with a 400m jog plus 2 minutes recovery.  I was joined on my session by Phil Musgrave who is slowly returning to full fitness after his recent wedding and honeymoon break.   Probably my most satisfying mile session for ages as I did three intervals from the bandstand up the hill at Saltburn in 5.31, 5.28 and 5.29.   The last mile we decided to reverse the route which meant an uphill section early in the mile but then a nice long downhill section in the mid part of the interval.  It meant a nice quick finish to the session with a 5.15 mile - feels great to get the legs turning over with gravity helping me along!

There has been some wonderful athletic performances over the past few days but here are my own highlights...

Galen Rupp smashing the American 10,000m record in 26.48.00 to set a new American record
Keninisa Bekele coming back from injury to run a World Lead 26.43.16 in the same race!
A stunning Great North Run winning Mens time of 58.56 by Martin Mathathi and having the energy to do a celebratory jig after finishing!
Ian Hudspith claiming 15th place in the Great North Run in a superb 64.14 as a Vet 40!
Lucy Kabuu from Kenya winning the Womens race in a super quick 67.06 and also a great debut from Helen Clitheroe in 70.57.

Now its ease down time ready for Saturday's relays...steady running from here onwards then its back to the pre Sheffield 10km time for slacking!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Track session 3 x 3km

Tonights track session was one of those ones that plays on your mind all day...3 x 3km..thats 9km of hard running...thats 22.5 laps...thats...almost a 10km...thats....ok ok you get the point!

My aim tonight was to get close to 10km target pace for the 3km efforts but more importantly to hit all three efforts within 15 seconds of each other.

34 minute 10km pace is about 10.12 for the 3km so this was the target.

1st 3km = 10.22
2nd 3km = 10.09
3rd 3km = 10.12

Although my first effort was a bit slower than target the overall session was pleasing.   The difference target of 15 seconds from slowest to fastest was achieved with a 13 second differential.

I am branching out into a new area for me in running as I have revalidated my UKA Coaching Licence and am actively coaching four athletes at the moment with a few more coming into the group. 

A good solid session also by NYMAC Ladies Jayne Parkin and Lucy Clough who both completed tonights session with a 10 second differential across the set by Jayne and a 15 second differential across the set by Lucy.    Both athletes managed to hit target times for one of the three 3kms but the aim of the session was to get a consistent set of three x 3km in which they both get a big tick in the box...just need a few lessons on lap counting to be done :).    Well done both.

The other two athletes I coach both competed last weekend.  Phil Musgrave ran a solid 1.34.58 Half Marathon pb while Steve Mussett ran a solid relay leg in the Yorkshire Relays for Loftus and Whitby.   Its early days for all of them as they are all working to longer term aims over the winter and beyond.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Raving about Road Relays!

Just a short blog to keep up with my weekly update.   In the week since my last blog I have done a load of quality runs (nothing spectacular I might add!) managing to log a solid 55 miles in the post race week and a further 33 miles so far this week since Sunday.  The gales have made for an interesting few runs with some interesting splits on my steady run Monday lunchtime (6.47, 6.51, 5.45. 5.51!). 

Tomorrow night I head to the track for a first track session in a few months.  After the disappointment of Middlesbrough 10km I decided to pick myself up and put some hard efforts in prior to a run out again over 10km in Sheffield at the Great Yorkshire Run in October.   As ever things change and now I am building in an appearance at the Northern Road Relays in Warrington on Sept 24th.   This means that my three week mega block of quality will be reduced to a shorter block of two and a half weeks as I reduce mileage for the Relays.  The best plans are the flexible ones!

In reality I know we probably dont stand much of a chance of qualifying for the nationals as the team we have going to Warrington are not the strongest on paper (and that is no disrespect to the guys turning out for the club who will be giving it their all I am sure) but for me the important thing is that we are there as a club and taking part in what should be a great event. 

I personally think that the road relays are a fantastic opportunity to race against top quality opposition, it gives you the chance to see some great race action and is a great day out.   There has been a lot of talk about the demise of the road relays and this really is a shame.   I wonder if we are becoming so obsessed with personal bests and accurate courses (the garmin brigade?) etc etc that the road relays are not as attractive because of the random distances...I think the warrington distance is advertised as 6.8km or something similar.   I have ran in the Northern six stage relays about seven or eight times now and have thoroughly enjoyed every one - some I have started as a Leg 1 runner and endured a fast and furious start, others I have taken over way down the field and pulled back a dozen places or more, others I have taken over from someone having a "flyer" and tried desperately to hold the team position!   The common thing in all of the relays was the feeling of being part of a team...the anticipation of seeing your team mate coming into the changeover area,  the feeling of every place counts in that mid section of a lonely leg trying to reel in the runner in front to gain a place for the team...oh and every now and again seeing a "superstar" fly past you on his way to glory!  Forget the times, the mile splits, the pb's and the "my garmin says that was 5.09km not 5km!" - enjoy racing for racing sake!

So well done in advance to all you club runners who will be turning out at Warrington a week on Saturday.   Keep the relays flag flying strong!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Post Boro Blog!

Ok so Sundays race might not have gone to plan but I'm over it!  

Here is how my last three days post Boro have gone...  Have I....?

A.     Not run a single step...drunk a bottle of wine a night and eaten so many biscuits, crisps and sweets that I feel like I have doubled my body weight!


B.    Got stuck into some post race training that have blown the cobwebs away and made me feel really positive that I am going to move on and get closer to those elusive 2011 targets (these being a Sub 34 10km and a Sub 16:30 5km)....

And the answer is....


Monday - Ran a 4.6 mile loop before work averaging a cool 6-23 per post race 8 minute miling shuffle for me...I meant business!    Followed this up with a steady four miler later in the day not as quick but still not slouching at 6-40 miling.

Tuesday - hit by the DOMS a bit (delayed onset muscle soreness!) so the morning run was a bit of a seven minute mile easy run...apparently Jon Brown used to swear by lots of recovery running at 7 min miling!   Calves a bit tight and generally tired but not too bad.    I had arranged to do an 800m session with one of the athletes I coach to kick start his training after his recent break due to an all you can eat honeymoon!    So we hit our usual Saltburn Victoria Terrace 800m loop with the intention of doing a short set of 5 or 6 x 800m with target times of under 3 minutes being the order of the day.

A good session all round with my set of 6 looking like : 2-42, 2-41, 2-41, 2-41, 2-37, 2-39 and Phil getting all his five reps well under target with plenty to spare.

I had booked a post Middlesbrough 10k rewarding massage on Tuesday so the 800m session was a bit of a squeeze before I rushed off to the Physio....Have you been doing the stretches...oh yes definitely.....have you been doing much running....oh yes about 50 mile per been out tonight....oh er only a light session knowing I was coming here ha ha!!!.   45 minutes later and I crawled off the massage table somewhat worse for wear and wondering why anyone would pay to have such pain is all part of the bigger picture!  To be honest the pain was all coming from my left calf which was severely knotted and going into spasm apparently!   So much so that a respite from the normal massage techniques were required and an acupuncture needle was inserted into my calf...aaargh that was a relief!  One topic of conversation focussed on my extremely tight calf muscles and how this doesn't usually affect me like this.    Dehydration was offered by the physio as a possible reason for the tightness....given that the 10km was quite hot in the end and I quite possibly could be feeling a bit dehydrated I wondered if that theory held some truth....A quick search on the internet and I found that there are several articles and research studies that have found that dehrydration can indeed increase the chances and intensity of DOMS.   Might be worth remembering that extra bottle of water or electrolyte post race to ward off DOMS!

Today I woke up with only a slight stiffness in my calves and feeling relatively pain free (except for sore fingers presumably from gripping the massage table so hard!).    After an easy run this morning I opted for a steady 5 miler tonight where after a steady start I averaged around 6-08 for the five.  

I was tempted to do the Coast Road 5km but having raced on Sunday, the sessions I have done since and the wind I decided against it.    One of the things I am trying to do is to structure my training around A, B and C races where A is a race that I really want to do well in, B races are a build up race where I do not taper or anything and use as a decent training session.   C races are well just something a bit different and could be a bit of fun or something a bit different.

Middlesbrough 10km was always going to be an A race so racing a few days later was not going to be anything other than a B race.   My next A race will be the Sheffield 10km in October which gives me a good block of training to get some decent sessions under my belt.    Lets hope I hold it together from 9km out this time - I am working on my 53 second lap just to make sure!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Boro 10k - Every picture tells a story!

Thanks to the Aspin Children for a load of great photos - you capture my pain well!
A good start...
Feeling good!


A Vet 40 pb at Boro 10km but not a happy runner!

I went for it today....set off knowing that a quality run would be needed to hit the Sub 34 goal that I have set myself this year.   I am not one for negative splits (are these a mythical thing for non kenyan runners?).  The first few miles were bang on track with mile splits of 5-22, 5-25 and 5-21.   At 5km I really did feel good running 16-40 (only 8 seconds outside of my 5km best this year).  Surely it was just a case of ticking off those miles to get the sub 34?  

Mile 4 and plenty of movement in the group I was with as some of the group dropped off the pace and others pushed on.  Another 5-22 mile I was still feeling ok and making good progress.  The 5th mile started to feel a bit tough but I felt I had enough in the tank to keep the pace going and the 5.33 mile reflected the course profile and the stage of the race.  27.05 for five miles would be quicker than I have ran for some time...just 2km to go and 6 mins 55 in the bag to play with.....aaarggh who just took my legs away!   Not sure when the actual race went pear shaped for me as I do not remember the 9km mark I just remember the sudden onset of drowning in lactate and breathing like an old steam train driven by an asthmatic chain smoker!

Well done to fellow NYMAC member Vic Brudenell who ran a great race today to finish just one place ahead of me in 34.06.   I thought I had dropped Vic about 3km into the race but you can never write him off!   He probably ran a steady race (might have even done a negative split!) and finished tremendously having overtaken me on Hall Drive sometime between 9km and 10km.  Last mile split between 5 and 6 was a 5.53 with the last 400m taking me 85 seconds (respect to Mo doing a 53 second last lap - if only I could pull that one out of the bag I would be sat here raving about a sub 34!).

I know I put some effort in today as a threw up five minutes after I finished (I cannot remember ever doing that!).  

Well done Middlesbrough for another great 10km...Well done Ian Hudspith from Morpeth for flying the flag for us vet 40's winning the race outright with a fine 30.24.

On the positive side for me it was a Vet 40 pb by 6 seconds and it will move me up the Power of 10 rankings by a few places.  

On a final note well done Mo Farah on a fantastic Gold Medal in the 5000m! 

Results from Boro:

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Well done Team Aviva GB + NI in Daegu!

So far five medals for the GB and Northern Ireland team....mixed results so far from Daegu but I think overall a fantastic World Championships so far....

Well done to all the medallists to date:

Mo Farah  Men’s 10,000m Silver
Andy Turner  Men’s 110mH  Bronze
Jess Ennis  Heptathlon  Silver
Hannah England Women’s 1500m Silver
Dai Greene  Men’s 400mH  Gold

Three days until Middlesbrough 10km and I cant wait to toe the line in a massive 10km race with loads of local athletes taking part.    Last year I had a disappointing race finishing in 35.18 for 27th place.   I went into the race full of confidence that a time in the low 34's was a real possibility but a hamstring twinge at 2 miles into the race put paid to any ambition I had of a fast time....I remember the feeling of runner after runner going past me on the fastest part of the course and not being able to do anything about it other than grit my teeth and push on.

This year I am in much better shape and go into the race with a few races under my belt that would suggest a low 34 posting is a real possibility.  It is really fantastic that we have such a quality road race on our doorstep and the numbers who enter every year prove the popularity of the event.  I'm in taper mode at the moment and going through the usual balancing much running should I be doing?   Will too many easy days mean I am feeling stale on race day?  Is that a cold that I can feel coming on?

This week has looked so far like:

Sunday - 5 miles steady run @ 6-30 pace
Monday - 8 x 400m intervals all @ 5km pace and under
Tuesday - warm up then 5km time trial - me versus the Virtual Garmin Partner...I won by 3 seconds with a 16-57 effort!
Wednesday - Easy run am and a pm jog with a few strides/easy hills thrown in
Thursday (Today) - a 4 mile run before work average about 6-20 pace.

Next couple of days will just be short steady runs of maximum 5 miles each which will leave me feeling fresh on the start line on Sunday...

Yesterday I got my London Marathon Championship entry through the post.  This was as a result of my 74.47 Chester Half Marathon time back in May.    The Marathon in April seems a long way off but already I am thinking of how my training will be moving towards the longer runs over the winter. 

I love winter running...especially the Cross Country season......On Sunday as we hopefully enjoy the Middlesbrough 10km we will only be 5 weeks away from the start of the XC season.   Unfortunately I am going to have to delay the start of my own Cross Country season as I will be enjoying another big road race event as I line up for the Great Yorkshire Run (thanks to a complimentary entry from the organisers).  

An update on the new Brooks Adrenaline GTS shoes - quite possibly one of the best shoes I have worn!  Felt good from the off and for a motion control shoe feel really responsive and they look good (especially with my jazzy laces combination!).

Finally a big well done to Eurosport for the coverage of the World Championships in Daegu....Sorry Channel 4 you have a lot of work to do...a tip from me would be to ensure your presenters know a bit about athletics and can provide a bit of an insight into the events - there have been some shocking moments on Channel 4 that have proved they are not up to the standard of the BBC coverage or Eurosport!

My predictions for medals in Daegu - Farah (Gold) in the 5000m and Meadows in the 800 (I predict Bronze)....there is also the triple jump where I am sure Phillips Odowu will come away with a medal of some sort (I think Silver).   As for the relays...finishing them would be a bonus!